Walnut Creek Workers’ Compensation Attorneys

In California, workers’ compensation is a series of laws that provide workers’ compensation benefits to those persons injured while on the job. With some exceptions, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system of laws. Employers in California are required by law to maintain worker’s compensation insurance for their employees and their insurance policy pays the claim. If you were injured on the job, it generally does not matter who is at fault, if anyone, for the accident. Filing a Workers’ Compensation claim may provide several benefits including:

  • Payment for medical expenses
  • Payment for two-thirds of normal pre-injury monthly salary
  • Payment for job retraining
  • Payment for living expenses while unable to work

If you have been injured at work, contact the Appel Law Firm LLP for a free initial consultation to learn about your options and your rights.

California Workers’ Compensation Laws

The Department of Industrial Relations in California provides a guidebook for injured workers about their rights and the state’s laws regarding compensation for work-related injuries and acquired illnesses. Individuals hurt on the job – for any reason, must be able to file a workers’ compensation claim. This is Form DWC-1. Employers are required, under law, to supply this form along with a document or information about the rights and potential eligibility for benefits. This falls under Cal. Labor Code § 5401 (2018) accessible through the Division of Workers’ Compensation.

The law also states that an employer must authorize payment for any necessary medical treatment even if it is investigating the claim as a valid one. If a claim is not denied within 90 days, after the employee has submitted the necessary form, it is considered approved. Additionally, the insurer is responsible for as much as $10,000 in medical bills until a decision is made about the validity of the claim (within 90 days), according to Cal. Labor Code § 5402(b), (c) (2018).

The law also requires that the employer begin to provide temporary disability benefits within 14 days of learning of the individual’s injury, even if it is still determining the validity of the claim. If this does not happen, the employer is assigned a 10 percent late payment. Also, an employee has five years from the specific date the injury occurred to file an application for coverage of the individual’s losses related to the workers’ compensation claim.

How to File Workers’ Compensation in California

Filing for workers compensation in California can be a tedious process, but if you have been injured at work and you are unable to return to your current duties, filing for workers compensation is your only recourse for recovering lost wages. Filing for workers compensation requires that you fill out all of the appropriate forms, and then giving this form to your employer so that they can fill out their portion.

Form DWC 1 and Getting Your Workers Compensation Claim Started

The first form that you need to fill out to get your workers compensation claim started is the DWC 1 form. This is a simple form, where you must supply your contact information, address, social security number, date of injury and type of injury you sustained. You are responsible for filling out the first part of this form and then submitting it to your employer so that they can finish their portion of the form. It’s important that you describe the nature of your injury, and that you indicate the date and time the injury occurred. The more information you can provide on this form, the easier it will be for a claims administrator to review your claim.

How Workers’ Compensation Benefits Are Paid

Workers’ compensation benefits provide payment for:

  • medical expenses you incur as a result of your workplace injury. These dollars are paid directly to the healthcare provider who administered the care. Unlike traditional insurance benefits, there will be no out-of-pocket medical costs for a work-related injury.
  • lost income as a result of time away from work or decreased ability to work. In California, these dollars total two-thirds of your regular income (not including overtime) paid directly to you for each day that you are away from work due to injury. If you can work but less hours than before, Workers’ Compensation will pay out two-thirds of what you would have earned in the remaining hours.

It’s important to note that time away from work must be required by your healthcare provider in order to be covered by workers’ compensation, and that if you fail to return to work when your physician releases you, you will be required to repay any benefits paid for the time you were released and not working.

What Costs Does Workers’ Compensation Cover?

Medical Care

In California, nearly all people employed are covered under workers’ compensation laws. This includes immigrants, minors, people that work part-time, and permanent residents. Some types of employees are not covered though, such as domestic workers in private homes, and people that are self-employed. The vast majority of people working in California, however, are considered to have coverage.

Californians can receive medical benefits that are necessary to cover the costs of workplace injuries. This includes costs for doctor’s visits, surgeries, medicine, and any additional costs you may incur during treatment, such as purchasing a wheelchair or crutches. Finally, medical care costs also cover any rehabilitation care you may need to recover from your injury.

Disability and Retraining

In addition to medical care payments, workers’ compensation in California also provides temporary disability benefits, permanent disability benefits, death benefits, and supplemental job displacement benefits. The following is a list of some the disability benefits you may be eligible to receive:

  • Total Temporary Disability Benefits:  Total temporary disability is payable when you are not able to work because of temporary restrictions that your doctor has established for you. In other words, although you cannot work right now, your doctor believes you will be able to go back to work once you fully recover.
  • Temporary Partial Disability:  If you are temporarily partially disabled, then your compensation will match the extent of your limitations due to your disability. Hence, if your doctor only allows you to work five hours out of each eight-hour day, you will receive benefits proportional to the three hours of work each day that you cannot stay at your job.
  • Permanent Partial Disability: After you have reached your maximum medical improvement, and are still partially disabled, you will be able to receive some benefits, even if you can return to work with limitations.
  • Permanent Total Disability: If you cannot return to employment because of a disability that will not improve with time, you may be eligible for total disability benefits. You do not need to be totally debilitated to receive benefits in California, but only injured to such an extent that you cannot ever return to work.
  • Retraining: Finally, if after a certain amount of time you have discovered that your disability is permanent, you will be unable to return to your previous work, and your employer has not offered you any alternatives, you can qualify for an education voucher to learn a new skill.

How Long Does Workers’ Compensation Last?

Workers’ compensation will replace two-thirds of your lost income through their temporary disability program 1) for the duration of your time away from work due to workplace injury or illness, OR 2) for two years, whichever is less. However, permanent disability may apply.

As soon as your doctor releases you to return to work, even on modified duty or fewer hours, you must return to work to prevent having to pay benefits you received back to Worker’s Compensation. If your injury is serious enough to cause permanent disability, meaning you can never return to work or will always suffer the effects of the injury, Workers’ compensation will replace your income for two years before your case transitions to permanent disability. Permanent disability payments vary significantly depending on degree of disability. These payments can last for the remainder of your life, and in some cases, can be paid out in a single lump sum.

Why Chose the Appel Law Firm LLP?

Our Walnut Creek, California law firm offers practitioners of worker’s compensation law in the state. We have handled hundreds of cases since 1995. Work Comp Attorneys Joseph Appel, and Thomas Appel frequently appear before the Workers Compensation Board, advocating for injured workers.

We represent clients from Walnut Creek and throughout the surrounding areas, including the counties of Contra Costa and Alameda County. Let us put our resources and knowledge to work for you. Call us today at 925-938-2000 for a free consultation.

Typical workplace injuries

It is wise to hire an attorney to make sure you receive all the benefits you are entitled to receive. Our clients include employees with injuries, such as:

  • Amputation of limbs, fingers and toes
  • Burns from chemical exposure and explosions
  • Brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Back and neck injuries, including herniated lumbar or cervical disks
  • Fractured bones
  • Crushing injuries
  • Hearing loss
  • Any serious injury resulting in surgery and extended disability
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) and other chronic pain conditions
  • Fatal injuries/death

Injuries such as these occur in a wide range of businesses and job types. We have helped people who work in industries, such as:

We Handle Complex Work Injuries And Third-Party Claims

Our law firm has experience handling even the most difficult claims; we also help people recover compensation from third parties (not their employers) who may have contributed to the accident that caused their injury. Not many law firms have the ability to handle both types of cases. In this event, a civil lawsuit can be filed in Superior Court to achieve full compensation for the injured worker, as opposed to only receiving workers’ compensation benefits.

Workers Compensation Frequently Asked Questions

What is Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation in California is the legal system by which workers who suffer on the job injuries receive temporary compensation benefits, medical care and treatment benefits, and occasionally partial or total permanent disability benefits.

What are Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

The insurance companies provide and pay for medical care and treatment for the cure or relief of industrial injuries. The insurance companies also pay highly regulated temporary disability benefits, and if applicable, partial or total permanent disability benefits.

What if You’re Injured at Work?

Report the accident immediately to a supervisor, fill out the appropriate work comp claim form, and report immediately to a medical doctor at which time you should document ALL of your injuries, no matter how minor to the doctor for record keeping and treatment. As soon as you can thereafter, you should the seek the services of a trained workers compensation for a private, independent consultation as to your potential rights under the California worker’s compensation system.

Can You Be Fired for Being Injured at Work?

Your employer cannot fire for proposing to file, or filing, a workers’ compensation claim. Such a firing is illegal under Labor Code Section 132(A). Any employer who does so is subject to severe penalties payable to the injured worker

What If Your Work Injury is Caused by a Third Party?

If your injuries are caused by someone other than your co-workers at your company you may have what is known as a third-party case. A third party case is filed in the superior courts of the state of California and you are allowed to seek full relief, including past and future medical bills, past and future losses of earnings, and past and future pain, suffering, inconvenience, humiliation, and emotional distress.  Third party cases need to be analyzed as soon as possible with the assistance of a trained attorney.

Let Us Help You

Brad L., Oil Refinery Operator

Feeling confident that our case was being well-handled eased a lot of stress during a difficult time. Joe was very generous with his time and expertise in our workers comp case and was always there to answer any questions

Don’t get lost in a stack of claims sitting on an inexperienced lawyer’s desk somewhere. Get personal attention and peace of mind while you heal. You want a legal team that pursues your case from day one, goes to bat for you, and proves your case so you get the compensation you deserve and need. We’re that team, your team. If you don’t win, we don’t win, and we don’t get paid our attorney fees.

Contact us for a free consultation regarding your workers’ compensation claim.

NOTICE—making a false or fraudulent workers’ compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in prison or a fine of up to $50,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

Want to learn more? Read our Workers' Compensation FAQ’s on our blog.